Team: Catherine Cunningham, Gerardo Chaparro, Karina Bhattacharya

United Nations Development Goal #11:

Build Sustainable Cities and Communities

Inspired by nature, Urban Canopy was my team’s answer to addressing heat relief in the concrete jungle.

Biomimicry: Imitating Nature to Solve Human Problems

We were inspired by the Maidenhair tree’s ability to offer streetside shade. When placed in urban areas, its shade temperatures decreased temperatures by 3°. Its 2-4 inch leaves which are densely clustered makes it an ideal shade tree.

We considered peak daylight hours.

We arranged the canopies to offer shade at peak daylight hours. We used Keyshot to simulate shade conditions at different times of the day, local to Houston, Texas.

We took a cradle to cradle approach.

All of the components could be disassembled into their original parts, making the parts reusable. The parts could also be shipped in smaller shipping containers, thus reducing our product’s carbon footprint.

Assembly does not require a skilled technician.

Our design is weld-free. The bolting system connects the beams simply and securely, making it possible to disassemble after use.


We optimized our canvas for strength and support for weather conditions in Houston. We also reduced manufacturing costs by minimizing the number of metal components and reducing the amount of fabric needed.

UrbanCanopy: Inspired by Nature in Every Step of the Design to Implementation.